THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Hadleigh United 2
Swaffham Town 2
Stuart Alston conceded that his Hadleigh side were mightily fortunate to salvage a point from Saturday’s home clash with Swaffham.
Kyle Cassell’s two goals in three of the last four minutes - including one which clearly hit his hand - saw the hosts rob their opponents of what would have been a thoroughly deserved first win in seven.
They say that when you’re at the bottom the luck doesn’t fall your way, and that was certainly the case in a proverbial relegation ‘six-pointer’ at The Millfield.
“First half we were a little unlucky to find ourselves a goal behind, but second half we were really poor,” admitted Alston.
“Credit to the boys, they have dug in and got a point, but then we could have ended up losing it at the end.
“It is a mixture of emotions because it is a game we needed to win.
“Right now a point is a good result, but I feel sorry for Swaffham because they deserved more than that.
“They have come a long way and to not take the points home with them, they must be gutted.”
Just six minutes in Cassell robbed left-back Jake Pattern and put in a great low cross for Sam Sharp, who should have at least hit the target, but steered it wide.
The hosts were in behind the Peddlars’ defence again two minutes later but Luke Gilvray’s shot on the turn was parried back to him. And from his second goalbound attempt covering full-back Luke Reed blocked with his head.
Swaffham continued to look vulnerable at the back and Reed had his own goalkeeper to thank for clawing his header out, following Cassell nodding across goal from Sharp’s delivery.
It was 23 minutes in before the visitors remotely threatened, James Gaffer getting across well to block Alex Vincent’s powerful angled shot.
It was the diminutive striker who broke the deadlock, capitalising on some slack Hadleigh defending to fire home.
And the basement dwellers made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute, with Vincent once again sweeping the ball in from inside the area.
Alston had clearly seen enough by the 70th minute, throwing on three substitutes at once but it did not seem to have the impact that was required though as, with nine minutes of normal time to go, Swaffham should have put the game out of sight. but Matt Blackford could only stab the ball wide.
It looked like no more than a consolation when Cassell’s header back across goal from Ross’ left-wing delivery pulled it back to 2-1 in the 90th minute.
But the unlikely comeback was completed in the third minute of stoppage time in controversial circumstances as Cassell was played in and, after the ball bounced up off the turf and hit his raised arm, his first shot was parried back out by Gentry before the attacker reacted quickest with a looping header that dropped in.
It sparked wild scenes among the home contingent, while the away players immediately ran towards the referee pointing to their arms.
But there was still further drama to follow as Swaffham’s Vincent sent a free-kick flying through a crowded box before it clunked off the foot of the left-hand post.
Hadleigh: Mansfield, Lewis (Artiss, 70), Dennington (Ross, 70), Barwick, Elliott (c), Gaffer, Cassell, Driscoll, Gilvray, Crisp, Sharp (Phadagi, 70). Unused subs: Lambert, Bilner,
Free Press Man of The Match: Kyle Cassell.
n Alston’s Hadleigh (19th), who are two points from safety, host ninth-placed Ipswich Wanderers tomorrow (7.45pm).